The woes of traders in Gisenyi Market, Rubavu District could soon be history thanks to plans to complete works on a modern structure whose construction stalled in 2014 following a tender dispute.
The dispute followed cancellation of the project contract by district authorities over irregularities in awarding the tender, which forced the developer to seek court redress.
However, the High Court has ruled in favour of the district and handed over the project document on February 7 after over two years in court. The ruling also gives ownership of the market to the district.
Traders say the working conditions in the old market are very poor and expose them and their merchandise to weather vagaries, especially rain.
Jean Luc Karerangabo, a vendor, said the poor working conditions also affects their growth, adding that a modern market would ensure security for their merchandise. Gaudence Nyinawumuntu, a cosmetics dealer, said the unfavourable working environment was a hindrance to business development.
Nyinawumuntu, who has been working in the market for the past six years, added that the rain sometimes destroy their merchandise, calling for a quick solution to the problem. She said the hygiene of the area has also been affected and gets worse during the rainy season.
“There hasn’t been any improvement of working conditions in the market over the past six years,” she added.
Ange Uwamahoro, who deals kitchenware in the old market, said it is a shame that Rubavu as one of the six secondary cities does not have a modern market. The other satellite cities are Huye, Nyagatare, Muhanga, Rusizi and Musanze.
District authorities speak out
However, Jeremie Sinamenye, the Rubavu District mayor, said all this would soon end following victory in the court.
The mayor said the district has already started searching for new private investors to complete the market.
About Rwf1.3 billion had been spent on the construction works by the time the project was stopped.
Sinamenye, however, said the district has hired a consultant to evaluate it and come up with its real value at the time of halting works two years ago.
“We are still waiting for the valuation exercise to end. Once that is done, we will look for firms with the capacity to develop the market in the shortest time possible… The policy now is that the market must be built by private investors,” Sinamenye said.
He said the new investors would also work on the old market to make one big modern structure to improve the working conditions of vendors.
“We want to combine the works for the old market and the new facility to set up one big modern structure,” Sinamenye said.